Open letter to Arne Duncan from Chicago teachers

A coalition of teachers from public and private schools — including the school that Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended as a child and where President Obama’s daughters were enrolled before they moved to Washington — are releasing an open letter to Duncan expressing concerns about department policies that they say promote the overuse of standardized tests, the Washington Post reports. Among the signees are teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school that was founded by a team of people that included Duncan. The letter is being released the same day that President Obama is speaking in Chicago about his second-term policy initiatives, including a push for gun control. That appeal has special resonance in the city, which had more than 500 homicides last year and is reeling from the shooting of a star teen student just after she had performed with her band on Obama’s inaugural ceremonies in Washington D.C. Duncan attended her funeral last week, along with First Lady Michelle Obama…

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Watch: Karen Lewis says ‘Off with their heads,’ stirs right-wing ire

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is no stranger to her outspokenness landing her in the headlines — but many conservatives are particularly miffed by a comment she made during a labor event last month, the Huffington Post reports. In the clip, recorded Dec. 2 during her keynote address of the Illinois Labor History Society’s Union Hall of Honor dinner and posted on YouTube Monday, Lewis noted that an earlier generation of labor leaders resolved their differences with the rich with a very straightforward mantra: “Off with their heads.”

“Do not think for a minute that the wealthy are ever going to allow you to legislate their riches away from them,” Lewis told the audience at the event. “However, we are in a moment where the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber baron ages. The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill. They were. They were just — off with their heads. They were seriously talking about that.”

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How things look to a returning Chicago teacher

With the Chicago teachers strike continuing for a fourth day, it makes sense to hear how things look in the Windy City to an actual Chicago teacher, the Washington Post reports. So here’s a piece by Gregory Michie, a new public school teacher in Chicago and senior research sssociate at the Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice at Concordia University Chicago. His new book, “We Don’t Need Another Hero: Struggle, Hope, and Possibilty in the Age of High-Stakes Schooling,” will be published in November by Teachers College Press…

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Chicago school board, teachers reject report

A fact finder’s recommendation to give Chicago teachers a double-digit raise was rejected Wednesday by both the city’s teachers union and the governing board of the Chicago public school system, paving the way for a teacher strike, the Associated Press reports. The 6-0 vote by the school board came about an hour after the union vote. The union cited classroom quality issues in its vote, while school board officials cited the district’s financial difficulties.

“Quite simply, the board does not have the resources to accept the fact finder’s recommendation,” Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale said.

But he was optimistic that both sides could reach a deal. Vitale noted that the district and the union have used collective bargaining for 25 years without a strike, and said “it is a record I believe we both want to extend.”…Read More